CONCERNS have been raised with Orange Health Service management that patients who no longer have access to a lymphedema treating physiotherapist at Orange hospital will suffer long-term and irreversible effects.
Retired cancer surgeon Dr Stuart Porges and chairman of Cancer Care Western NSW John Carpenter said they have twice met with management at the hospital in April and again earlier this month to express concerns the position of lymphedema physiotherapist was vacant and hadn’t been filled.
Dr Porges said specialist lymphedema physiotherapy is vital to prevent swelling in the limbs of cancer patients who have undergone the removal of lymph glands or other surgery where a limb can be affected.
“Unfortunately lymphedema is a fairly frequent complication of any procedure where the lymph glands are removed and is particularly common after breast cancer treatment,” Dr Porges said.
“Ideally the out of town patients staying in Orange for radiotherapy should be having this preventative lymphedema care at the same time as they are having their radiotherapy in Orange, rather than having to make special trips for the occasional and insufficient lymphedema treatments,” Dr Porges said.
Orange Health Service general manager Catherine Nowlan said the physiotherapist previously fulfilling the role has retired.
“We were very fortunate this physiotherapist had the required training to provide this important service, and we are looking at options for up-skilling more allied health clinicians to provide this service,” Ms Nowlan said.
“Orange Health Service is currently undertaking recruitment to fill the musculoskeletal physiotherapist position and the physiotherapy department at Orange Health Service is continuing to accept referrals from the cancer care team to ensure we provide this service to lymphedema patients,” Ms Nowlan said.
Mr Carpenter said he and Dr Porges are pushing for the appointment immediately.
“As part of Cancer Care Western NSW we see our role very much as an advocacy one,” Mr Carpenter said.
“Unfortunately we have a family friend who has recently developed cellulitis as a result of lymphedema and while something can be done to ease the situation, it is now irreversible,” he said.
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